Transport for London (TfL) is celebrating a successful decade of cycle hire in the capital, ten years on from the launch of its flagship cycling scheme. On 30 July 2010, TfL introduced cycle hire to Londoners with 350 docking stations across eight London boroughs.
Today, these numbers have more than doubled: Londoners now have access to 781 docking stations and more than 12,000 bikes, with an additional 1,700 new bikes currently being added to the fleet.
Cycling in London has more than doubled since 2000. TfL’s cycle hire scheme has been at the forefront of this cycling boom over the last decade, contributing to the largest increase in cycling in London since records began.
By offering flexible and inexpensive access to bikes across the city, cycle hire has made it easy for Londoners and visitors to the capital to give cycling a try. More than half of cycle hire users in London today say they started cycling because of the scheme. Today, the red livery of Santander Cycles is a familiar sight on London’s streets as cycling continues to skyrocket in popularity.
In 2020, Santander Cycles has played an even more critical role by keeping London moving during the coronavirus pandemic. TfL data shows that cycling has increased significantly during the lockdown period and beyond, as Londoners turn to Santander Cycles for commuting and leisure.
More than 85,000 new members have signed up to the scheme since March – a 200 per cent increase on the same period last year – contributing to more than 2.3m hires throughout May and June. Previously, the scheme had never surpassed more than 50,000 hires on a normal workday, a record that has now been broken 13 times over the last seven weeks. Santander Cycles saw its busiest ever week with 363,000 hires between 25 – 31 May.
Throughout the pandemic, Santander Cycles has supported key workers by offering free access codes for NHS staff. More than 60,000 free journeys have been made since the NHS offer was made available in March, with the most popular location for code redemption close to St Thomas’s Hospital.
The anniversary comes as TfL celebrates five years of Santander sponsorship. Throughout 2020, TfL and Santander are awarding a free annual membership to a dedicated cycle hire user each month, naming a bike in their honour. Today, TfL has named the next four winners of the competition, covering April – July:
April: Mike Woods, from Surrey, is a long-term member of TfL’s cycle hire scheme. He credits Santander Cycles for helping to boost his mental and physical health in his recovery from prostate cancer
May: Emdad Rahman, from east London, is a Dementia Friends champion who has cycled 10K with cycle hire every day since the launch of the scheme. Santander Cycles helps him to deliver aid such as food, clothes, books and essentials to local charities, hospitals and care homes
June: Liz Harwood, from south east London, is an enthusiastic cyclist who has introduced more than 50 different people to cycle hire over the years. She cycles through London with her friends and family to take in the sights, and has been joined by friends from across the world on Santander Cycles rides
July: David Smith, from east London, works at Whipps Cross Hospital. In recent years, he has supported London through major trauma incidents including the London Bridge terror attack and Grenfell Tower disaster. When a thoughtful stranger thanked the King’s College Hospital team with a delivery of doughnuts, his team fundraised to pay it forward to their colleagues at the London Fire Brigade. An avid cyclist, David turned to Santander Cycles to help him deliver dozens of doughnuts to 30 fire stations across London
Winners of the cycle hire 10 anniversary competition, Sakhr Al-Makhadhi (January), Emdad Rahman (May) and Liz Harwood (June) were today introduced to their honorary bikes, which bear their names on unique gold livery.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “We are determined to ensure that the capital’s recovery from coronavirus is healthy and sustainable – enabling more people to cycle is absolutely central to this.
“London’s cycle hire initiative has been a fantastic success story and over the past decade we have seen this flagship scheme go from strength-to-strength. We are delighted that this summer there has been record-breaking demand for our Santander Cycles and we are capitalising on this by adding new docking stations, cycle hire hubs and bikes, which will make it even more convenient for Londoners to take to two wheels.
“Our world-leading Streetspace for London programme is also making it safer and easier to cycle in our city – more than 40km of new or upgraded cycle lanes have been built or are under construction, along with 16,000 square metres of extra pavement space.”
Helen Sharp, TfL’s Head of Cycle Hire Business Development, said: “Ten years ago today we launched the cycle hire scheme. Today, our Santander Cycles are as familiar a sight on our streets as a black cab or a roundel, embraced by Londoners and visitors to our city alike.
“We’re thrilled to celebrate ten years of our successful cycle hire scheme, which is helping us to achieve our vision for London becoming one of the world’s best capital cities for cycling. Cycling has grown enormously over the last ten years and never more so than during this summer. There has never been a better time to cycle and we look forward to expanding our iconic Santander Cycles scheme in the months and years ahead.”
Dan Sherwood, Director of Marketing, Santander, said: “For the last 10 years the scheme has played a significant role in the way millions of people experience the city, with records consistently being broken along the way. Since we started our partnership, we’ve worked hard to ensure Santander Cycles play an important part in keeping communities of all backgrounds connected and mobile in a healthy, sustainable and affordable way. From the installation of the green safety Beryl Laserlights, the creation of the hire app, the introduction of contactless payment systems, GPS tracking and the expansion into more boroughs, we’re proud to play a part in helping people and businesses through the scheme.”
Sam Jones, Serco’s Contract Manager, said: “Serco is immensely proud to have been part of the journey with TfL in the first decade of London’s cycle hire scheme. We had the original task of designing, building and then operating the cycle scheme when it was first introduced in 2010, worked with our partners Pashley to introduce the new bike in 2017 and are now proud to have responsibility for managing, maintaining and distributing the cycles around London. The cycles have become an iconic part of London’s transport landscape, never more popular than during the coronavirus crisis, and our Serco team of bike mechanics, drivers, on-street distributers, control room operators and others look forward to continuing to support TfL in the scheme’s future development.”
The search continues for the remaining five winners of the cycle hire 10 competition, with one dedicated cycle hire user chosen each month during the remainder of 2020.
TfL and Santander are keen to hear from people who hired the cycles within the first year of the scheme, have completed the most journeys or who have a unique story to share about them. People can share their experiences of the cycle hire scheme by emailing [email protected] for a chance to win*.
To keep up with increasing demand for cycling, TfL is adding 1,700 new Santander Cycle bikes to the fleet, bringing the total on London’s streets to more than 14,000, and rolling out eight new docking stations this summer. Three new docking stations are being built around Clapham Common, four will be built alongside the Cycleway 4 route, which will connect Tower Bridge Road with Rotherhithe, and one will be built at nearby Canada Water. A further six docking stations will be built by the end of the year.
TfL is also working closely with local boroughs to rapidly create space for cycling across the city, as part of the Streetspace plan. This includes building a strategic network for cycling in London, transforming town centres and reducing traffic on residential streets. Work on a number of new cycle routes is underway in Camden and Waltham Forest, with routes set to link Chalk Farm to Kings Cross and Blackhorse Road to Haringey.
Santander Cycles can be hired from as little as £2 a day for an unlimited number of 30-minute journeys. The free app is available on the iTunes and Android App Stores, searching for Santander Cycles.
People keen to start or return to cycling in London are encouraged to try TfL’s Online Cycle Skills training modules, which were launched last week. The course covers a range of helpful advice from getting on the road for the first time to cycling safely in a group. Everyone who completes all four training modules will receive a free 24-hour access period to Santander Cycles, allowing them to start their cycling journey.
To find the closest Santander Cycles docking station, visit tfl.gov.uk/santandercycles.